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A newly caught octopus on a reef flat. (Photo Copyright: Garth Cripps/WWF)

Study warns Western Indian Ocean assets valued at USD 333.8 billion are at risk

MADAGASCAR
Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 01:30 (GMT + 9)

A recent report values the marine assets of the Western Indian Ocean region by at least USD 333.8 billion, but also predicts major challenges for ocean dependent economies and food supply if no action is taken.

The study, Reviving the Western Indian Ocean Economy: Actions for a Sustainable Future is the result of an in-depth, is a joint assessment by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), CORDIO East Africa and WWF.

According to the report, the region’s most valuable assets are fisheries, mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs.

In addition, it points out that adjacent coastal and carbon-absorbing assets are also central to the wellbeing of communities and the health of the ocean economy.

The analysis determined that the region is heavily dependent on high-value ocean natural assets that are already showing signs of decline. Therefore, the report offers a set of priority actions required to secure a sustainable, inclusive ‘blue economy’ for the region, and thus to provide food and livelihoods for growing populations.

“This analysis shows that the leaders of the Western Indian Ocean face a clear and urgent choice: to continue with business-as-usual, overseeing the steady decline of ocean assets, or to seize the moment to secure the natural ocean assets that will be crucial for the future of fast-growing coastal communities and economies,” Country Director of WWF-Madagascar and Western Indian Ocean Islands, Nanie Ratsifandrihamanana, explained.

“The Western Indian Ocean still has the chance to get it right,” she added.

For his part, John Tanzer, WWF’s Oceans Practice Leader, stressed, “The Western Indian Ocean must be a central priority for regional and global leaders to successfully implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the promise of the Paris climate agreement."

He also stated that few other places show so clearly how intertwined are the destinies of coastal people and the health of ocean ecosystems. Therefore, protecting ocean habitats and managing fisheries sustainably – both small-scale and industrial – are just two areas that would deliver great dividends for years to come.

“Within the region, the Northern Mozambique Channel initiative provides a good example of the scale of ambition possible for an integrated and sustainable approach to ocean management when decision makers come together around a common vision,” Tanzer concluded.


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